Hidden Truths: Most Martial Artists Can’t Fight
Most Martial Artists Can’t Fight
A poll was recently put out about the topic of “Most martial artists can’t fight” by Coach Dewey, a Mixed Martial Arts coach, commentator, judge, and referee based in Shanghai, China.
He said that they would be made to look foolish in an altercation with an aggressive attacker, specifically an aggressive, untrained person. It was a true or false poll type. Here’s what poll revealed:
- 57% answered true. That an aggressive, untrained person would make most of the average martial artist look foolish in an altercation.
- 43% marked false.
- 656 people wrote “it depends, this poll is not nuanced enough because there are levels, what do you mean by martial arts, how do you define martial artists, are we including all the kids in the daycare style Taekwondo classes because if so then definitely but if we’re only including combat sports athletes at high levels then that’s a different thing entirely”.
Okay so we’re going to hand over the rest of this article to Coach Dewey to explain his position based on his experience and understanding of what real life fighting incurs.
Also, help yourselves to the comments section below.
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Okay, let’s go!
To me an aggressive untrained person would make most of the average martial artist look foolish in an altercation. Some of you have answered saying that it depends on the topic of “Most martial artists can’t fight” because there are levels to fighting. You’ve questioned “what do you mean by martial arts?” and “How do you define martial artists?” and “Are we including all the kids in the daycare style Taekwondo classes, because if so then definitely, but if we’re only including combat sports athletes at high levels then that’s a different thing entirely.
Let’s discuss why most martial artists can’t fight. Let’s dive in.
Why Most Martial Artists Can’t Fight
Let’s define martial artists. A martial artist is someone who practices martial arts. There you go. There’s a definition. Can we work with that. A martial artist is someone who practices martial arts.
Now we can try to put some qualifiers out there and some thresholds like if you’re not a good fighter, you’re not a good martial artist. Argue about that in the comments. That’s fine, please do.
Can most martial artists fight? If we are understanding martial artists as people who practice martial arts, I would argue no! By answering no, I mean even if you train in a serious combat sport.
Okay, so you train at a serious combat sports gym. Maybe you’re a boxer, or a jujitsu athlete, or you do judo, or or MMA, or kickboxing Muay Thai, or whatever.
You have a bunch of people training in these real legitimate fighting techniques that really work when push comes to shove. And maybe you can fight. Maybe there’s a fight team there of professional and amateur fighters. Right, maybe you got some really skilled hobbyists there, but how about the average person? How about most of the people at your gym? How would most of them stack up against a really aggressive person?
There are three things, really three things that determine whether or not you’re gonna win a fight.
These three factors are:
- Your technique (and that’s only one, that’s one third of it)
- Your athleticism
- Your athletic attributes (this depends on the following)
- your strength
- your size
- your speed
- your effective aggressiveness
And if this triad of performance as our friend Zach Tolander likes to say, “if this triad performance is imbalanced, you only have one of those things and the guy has two, or you got this much technique (low), and the other guy has this much aggression (high level), then the guy with more is gonna do better in that fight.
The Average Street Thug
You ever hear that term “average street thug”? Some of you would say “Well, I think that my crappy technique would be fine against the average street thug, the average attacker on the streets.” Okay, you do realize you’re referring to the average attacker on the streets?
Listen, the average person doesn’t attack you on the streets. These are not average people. He’s not average if he thinks about attacking people.
People who wake up one day and think “You know what? I think I’m gonna go attack somebody on the streets today, that seems like a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon”.
No, this simply doesn’t happen! The average person is not a committed psychopath intent on injuring other people. That’s not an average person! The average person in a civilized society is not hyper-aggressive. Society rewards us for not being a hyper-aggressive person. Society punishes us for being a hyper-aggressive person.
So if you have an untrained person who is much more aggressive than the average person, it generally doesn’t end well for the person who is not aggressive.
Unrealistic Reaction to Sudden Attacks
There are a lot of self-defense videos out there you’ve probably watched. Maybe you’ve watched one just yesterday and it wasn’t terrible technique-wise, like the techniques were sort of okay. A lot of them are pretty universal techniques.
You’ll see in jujitsu classes, or boxing classes this sort of thing like they’re real fighting techniques, but the problem with the video is there’s this young lady, and the attacker jumps out and starts attacking her by surprise, and then suddenly she she is not shocked at all. There’s no moment of freezing up, having thoughts like “what the heck is going on?”. She just immediately goes into ninja mode and fights back with perfect technique, perfect precision without missing a beat. And that my friends is NOT normal!
That’s not natural! Most human beings can’t do that whether you train or not. If you are suddenly attacked by surprise on the streets or wherever you get attacked, something happens to the mind and you tend to freeze. That is the most common reaction to aggressive violence, to stop and try to figure out what the heck is going on. Thinking “how am I going to respond to this situation, this isn’t something I see every day”, and the word see is important here. Because our eyes are not cameras. What we see is our mind’s best guess of what will probably happen a fraction of a second in the future based on previous experiences. If we haven’t experienced it before, we don’t see it, not clearly anyway.
We have to evaluate it for a minute.
For example, if you saw some extraterrestrial technology far beyond anything that human beings have been able to imagine before, and it just appeared in front of you, you wouldn’t know what you were looking at and if you tried to describe it to somebody it would sound like magic. If you time traveled several hundred years back in time and showed off some gadgets from today to the people of the past, they might burn you at the stake as a witch because they would say something like “it’s evil witchcraft, it’s satanic magic, it’s black magic so burn the witch”.
This is because people wouldn’t know what they were looking at if they’ve never seen it before or have previous knowledge about it, right? Essentially, they just saw the highest level of technology that they have ever witnessed in their lives and it’s entirely possible that trying to piece this vision together, because again we don’t see photographs, we see our minds best guess of what will probably happen a fraction of a second in the future based on previous experiences, has left them speechless much less to say “spellbound”.
Can the Average Martial Artist Fight?
Okay, so about street fights and altercations, and how most martial artists can’t fight. They would be made to look foolish in an altercation with an aggressive untrained person and if were to get attacked on the streets by surprise you wouldn’t instantly go into karate mode.
There’s probably one or two of you out there who were like “well actually, I DID go into karate mode. I WAS attacked on the street and I DID in fact go instantly into karate mode and I used my outside knife hand block to actually block the attacker’s strike”. Hey, good for you, but for most of us here on planet earth, when we’re attacked by surprise and put in a situation we’ve never been in, before we know what’s happened, we panic. We try to figure it out. We pause! We freeze until we can guess what’s going on and then respond to it appropriately depending on our personal experiences. We’re not really wired for those instantaneous reactions to unforeseen events.
Can the average martial artist fight? I would say no. There are some of you who may have trained with thousands of martial artists from many disciplines, and you know very well that most of them are not very serious about fighting. They just enjoy training. They enjoy punching the heavy bag. They enjoy doing their forms. They enjoy grappling. They enjoy whatever it is their martial art trains them to do. Maybe they even enjoy cosplay by putting on a ninja outfit, pulling out a sword, and waving it around. And that’s fine.
Whatever you like to do, do it. If it gives you the result you want, do it. That’s the right way for you but all of these things are radically different things than becoming a competent fighter.
The guy from martial arts journey on YouTube did a recent video about Krav Maga and how some Krav Maga practitioners have started to change his mind about the practice of Krav Maga, and how it’s different than Aikido. But anyway, he asked a question at the end like “Are these legit guys, are they the exception or are they the norm?” and he said “in my experience they are the exception”. And I feel the same here but not just for Krav Maga, right?
I’ve trained with like at least 60 Krav Maga practitioners and instructors. Not just noobs but like actual instructors, and three, maybe four of them out of 60 knew how to fight. And by fight I’m not saying they were like high level. I’m saying they knew how to intelligently defend themselves in a physical hand-to-hand altercation and the rest were pretty helpless to be honest. Pretty helpless against any level of real aggression and real violence, but I can say the exact same thing about karate. I love karate. I hold ranks in several karate styles. I have many friends that do karate. It’s great! It’s awesome but the overwhelming majority of karate practitioners that I’ve trained with are just not very good at fighting. Some of them are totally legit badasses, but they’re the exceptions and not the norm.
And I can say the same thing about virtually every other martial art, virtually every last one of them, that most of the people are just not that good at fighting, but a few of them are the outliers. They are the guys who really logged in the time and put in the work, and are very consistent about it, and do everything in their power to become better at fighting. Those are the guys.
Who are most Martial Artists?
There’s a lot to be said about aggression. A bunch of you might are saying “well actually Ramsay, that comment isn’t true because essentially a martial artist is an untrained aggressive person but with technique”, but that’s not true.
Who are most martial artists? They’re nerds! They got picked on and beat up in school, and so they wanted to learn to fight back. And they watched movies. Martial arts movies like Bruce lee’s stuff and Jean-Claude Van Damme, the karate kid, or whatever it was they watched. Whatever martial arts movie, or comic book, or video game that made you think “hey if I learn to punch, and kick, and grapple, and throw hadoken fireballs, (or whatever it is your martial art teaches) then I’ll be able to fight off these bullies and solve my problems”.
And why do nerds get picked on? It’s because they’re not aggressive! They’re not assertive and they’re not confident. And so these people who lack the aggression also lack the confidence they need. They lack the assertiveness. They go to these self-defense classes, they learn the techniques, etc but they still lack the aggression, and they still lack the assertiveness, and they still lack the real confidence.
And some people say “well they might have false confidence” and this could be bad because they don’t have real confidence. Confidence is competence and competence equals confidence, and if you’re not competent then you’re not confident. Although, you can be delusional but that’s a different thing than confident. So yeah, there’s my claim and I’m sticking to it.
Most martial artists can’t fight! It’s a tough pill to swallow because every man thinks that he can fight. Every man overestimates his fighting ability, as that onion article said “by like 9000%” and it’s true. It’s absolutely true.
I shouldn’t say every man, because those exceptions to the norm, the guys who actually can fight, the guys who actually do understand the consequences and the repercussions of violence, these are the guys who think twice before getting into a violent altercation because they understand the consequences.
What are the consequences of violence? The consequences of violence is that you get hurt, you get killed, you get broken, it hurts, and it costs a price. The consequences are often dire, sometimes irreparable and when you understand that, it’s not something you want to gravitate toward unless you are being handsomely rewarded for it.
Thank you for reading, now get out there and train to learn how to really fight!